John Boehner Takes Up The Gavel And Throws Down The Gauntlet

Representative John Boehner (R) of the 8th District of Ohio accepts the gavel from Nancy Pelosi and is sworn in as the 61st Speaker of the House of the 112th Congress.

Congratulations Speaker Boehner!

When it was time to hand over the gavel Pelosi droned on and on, reciting her “accomplishments”. Boehner reminded her that “we are dust” and “to dust we shall return”.

Ezra Klein at The Washington Post reported that “it was a very smart speech by Speaker Boehner.

If you spent the afternoon watching C-SPAN, as I did, you heard applause. A lot of it. Over and over again. And when John Boehner took the podium to be sworn in as Speaker of the House of Representatives, it swelled back up, and stayed there. No one Republican member of Congress wants to be the first to stop applauding the new speaker.

Luckily, Boehner did it for them. “It’s still just me,” he said with a smile.

[…]

Boehner promised almost nothing at all. He certainly didn’t set himself up as a foil to President Obama, or anoint himself leader of a new conservative moment in American politics. Rather, his speech had two themes: Humility, and comity. He called his chamber “the people’s house,” and said “we are carrying out their instructions.

Some excerpts from his speech:

“We gather here today at a time of great challenges. Nearly one in ten of our neighbors are looking for work. Health care costs are still rising for families and small businesses. Our spending has caught up with us, and our debt will soon eclipse the size of our entire economy. Hard work and tough decisions will be required of the 112th Congress. No longer can we fall short. No longer can we kick the can down the road. The people voted to end business as usual, and today we begin carrying out their instructions.”

“The American people have humbled us. They have refreshed our memories as to just how temporary the privilege to serve is. They have reminded us that everything here is on loan from them. That includes this gavel, which I accept cheerfully and gratefully, knowing I am but its caretaker. After all, this is the people’s House. This is their Congress. It’s about them, not us. What they want is a government that is honest, accountable and responsive to their needs. A government that respects individual liberty, honors our heritage, and bows before the public it serves.”

“Our aim will be to give government back to the people. In seeking this goal, we will part with some of the rituals that have come to characterize this institution under majorities Republican and Democratic alike. We will dispense with the conventional wisdom that bigger bills are always better; that fast legislating is good legislating; that allowing additional amendments and open debate makes the legislative process ‘less efficient’ than our forefathers intended. These misconceptions have been the basis for the rituals of modern Washington. The American people have not been well served by them.”

“We will not always get it right. We will not always agree on what is right. A great deal of scar tissue has built up on both sides of the aisle. We cannot ignore that, nor should we. My belief has always been, we can disagree without being disagreeable to each other. That’s why it is critical this institution operate in a manner that permits a free exchange of ideas, and resolves our honest differences through a fair debate and a fair vote. We may have different – sometimes, very different – ideas for how to go about achieving the common good, but it is our shared goal. It is why we serve.”

This is indeed a great day!

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